“MACBETH 1969” TAKES A NEW LOOK AT THE BARD’S TRAGEDY


        BONNIE GOLDBERG

    
As a flawed hero, one need look no further than Macbeth, a man who learned he would be King and then moved heaven and earth to make sure that the prophesy came true.  Originally penned by William Shakespeare, it is receiving a new world premiere adaptation in the hands of Long Wharf Theatre’s Associate Director Eric Ting until Sunday, February 12.

 

While purists may not approve, “Macbeth 1969” moves the conflict from the heaths of Scotland to the American mid-west and the Vietnam War. The Three Witches, who are also referred to as the Weird Sisters, are now nurses, Socorro Santiago, Shirine Babb and Jackie Chung, who care for Macbeth and his fellow soldier Banquo (Barret O’Brien). When they return from the conflict, having shown great courage and bravery in battle, they enter a veteran’s hospital at Christmas time. The words of prophesy by the nurses ignite an ambitious quality in Macbeth’s character and suddenly he desperately wants their words to be his destiny.

 

Now with the title as the Thane of Glamis, the nurses proclaim he will soon be the Thane of Cawdor, and later King. The fact that Duncan is the current King and very much alive does not impede the power hungry Macbeth.  Soon he is plotting with his wife, Lady Macbeth (Shirine Babb) and “blood is shed, murders have been performed.”

 

No one who stands in Macbeth’s way is safe, not child or adult, and soon the landscape is littered with blood and bodies. Virtue is abandoned as the quest for greatness propels Macbeth, a masterful McKinley Belcher III, to sacrifice honor.

 

The atmosphere is one of storm and thunder, “sound and fury signifying nothing,” where ghostly apparitions appear at will and “all is the fear and nothing is the love.” Macbeth, once the idealized hero, has been transformed by his greed for control into a fiend and a mad tyrant. Eric Ting also directs this disturbing interpretation of one of the Bard’s most tragic tales, making it contemporary with an emphasis on the struggle of soldiers returning home from battle.

 

For tickets ($40-70), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

 

Witness for yourself how Macbeth’s crushing need for power spells his ultimate doom.


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